BRANDON, Miss. -- Jack Brooks Lacy Jr., who as an assistant U.S. attorney led the first federal murder prosecution in a civil rights-era killing, has died. He was 69.

Lacy died Friday of a bullet to the head, Rankin County Coroner Jimmy Roberts said. He said he would not have the autopsy report until Monday, but suspects suicide.

Lacy was known for his work in the 2003 conviction of former Ku Klux Klansman Ernest Avants for aiding and abetting the murder of black sharecropper Ben Chester White on federal property. Prosecutors said White, 67, was killed in the Homochitto National Forest in 1966 in an attempt to lure Martin Luther King Jr. to southwest Mississippi for assassination.

After his federal work, Lacy became assistant state attorney general for the Mississippi Band of Choctaws.

"Jack had an undying commitment to doing what was right as a public servant," John Dowdy, criminal division chief for the U.S. attorney's office, told WAPT-TV.

"His passion over the years became serving for the betterment of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. He will be sorely missed, no question," Dowdy told The Clarion-Ledger.

Lacy's first job was as a disc jockey after he ran out of money to attend the University of Mississippi, where he graduated in 1968 with a degree in English literature. He taught there for 14 years before finishing law school at age 40.

Funeral plans were incomplete Sunday, according to Ott & Lee Funeral Home in Brandon, a suburb of Jackson. -- AP

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